Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference 2016
Putting rights centre stage

Friday 2 September @ NAB, The Hall, 700 Bourke Street, Docklands

Kairsty Wilson

Photo of Kairsty Wilson, Human Rights lawyer and disability advocate, AED Legal Centre

Human Rights lawyer and disability advocate, AED Legal Centre

Kairsty was instrumental in the founding of the Association of Employees with a Disability trading as AED Legal Centre, a state wide service based in the Melbourne CBD. This legal service has been providing representation, advocacy and support for persons with a disability who are being discriminated against because of their disability in the areas of employment and education since 2008.

In many ways, Ms Wilson has been a leader and pioneer of legal advocacy in matters relating to the employment and education of people with a disability in Victoria and, more broadly, Australia. Under Kairsty’s direction as the Legal Manager of the service, the provision of access to justice for one of the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in society have now significantly increased.

Kairsty appears on behalf of clients in the Australian Human Rights Commission, Fair Work Commission, Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Magistrates Court.

Kairsty is committed to work hard to achieve for her clients empowerment, improved mental well-being, better self-esteem, and/or financial compensation for pain and suffering.

Testimony to her commitment are the endless un-paid hours she works on weekends and outside long office hours to organise and coordinate fundraising activities to keep afloat a poorly resourced and financially struggling Community Legal Centre.

The greatest endeavour and achievement during Kairsty’s leadership at AED has been her advocacy to improve the wages and working conditions for people with disability working in business services (now known as Australian Disability Enterprises). This culminated in a test case that successfully challenged the validity of the Business Service Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) at the Federal Court of Australia (on appeal) in December 2012 and in the High Court of Australia in May 2013. The rulings by the Federal and High Court in favour of two employees with an intellectual disability supported by Kairsty represent an historic victory likely to have far-reaching implications for the 20,000 employees with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises across Australia.

Kairsty also worked with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers in a successful representative action on behalf of 10,000 people with a disability to receive backpay for wages lost under the BSWAT.

Kairsty is currently involved in a national Wage Justice Campaign aimed at improving the wages and working conditions of employees with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs). The campaign, funded by the Reichstein Foundation involves having input in several jurisdictions.

In addition to her career in the law, Kairsty has over 20 years experience working in the nursing industry.


Rights Retrospective

Thursday 1st September, 2016: 3:30am - 5:30am

This special multi-media event marks the 30th anniversary of funded disability advocacy in Victoria. We will be reminded of the campaigns and personalities that have been telling the story of disability advocacy, how integral these were in building a rich history, and how this strong foundation is what we build on to create a future where rights are respected for all.